BAYTOWN, Texas - Good morning from Houston Raceway Park, where Sunday dawned looking a lot like Saturday, not a cloud in sight. But a quick survey of the local TV stations brought us back to reality, with severe thunderstorm warnings in effect until 11 AM and flash flood warnings in effect for most of the day.
There's a line of severe weather west of us, headed this way. Though everyone here is hoping the worst of it goes north of us, there's a very strong likelihood we will see some rain, possibly even before the start of the first round at 11 AM. However, the southern end of the weather pattern is marked by a thin line of rain. Once it gets here, it should move on through, so there's also a good chance we will be able to resume racing once it passes.
All the Professional eliminators were trimmed to sixteen cars in yesterday's qualifying sessions, and all the Sportsman eliminators are down to 12 cars or less, so once we start racing the program will move briskly.
When (or if) we do get to see some racing, it should be good. The level of performance Saturday was not far off the pace during the Friday evening qualifying session, the Houston Raceway Park racing surface once again living up to its supertrack reputation. Competition in the Federal-Mogul eliminators yesterday was quick, fast, and close.
The surface here is still very smooth and that produces quick times and close racing, with a minimum of tire shake and smoke. So far we've only had one major oildown, that coming with Frank Pedregon's spectacular top-end engine explosion, launching the body up as high as the top of the light poles.
Rumor control - yesterday Whit Bazemore held an unusual press conference, to announce a non-signing. In his words, "We came very, very close to signing a major worldwide manufacturing company. At the last minute it fell through because of the worldwide economic situation. Their profit in the third and fourth quarters was flat and they can't expand their motorsports sponsorship at this time...Without major corporate funding I will not be racing next year...My goal has always been and will continue to be winning an NHRA Funny Car championship."
He went on to say that it was a matter of timing, if they had been able to put the deal together a week or two earlier, it probably would have been signed, but once the company announced a worldwide layoff, the deal was dead.
Bazemore took this unusual step because there were strong and credible rumors were that it was a "done deal" and he didn't want any potential sponsors looking elsewhere. He's still looking, with two or three strong associate sponsors already on board.
Right now everyone is "hangin' and hopin'," waiting for 11 Am and hoping the
weather forecasters prove once again to be wrong when trying to predict the
weather at HRP. Come back by here at Drag Race Central throughout the day
and we'll keep you up to date on what's happening here at the 2nd annual
Matco Tools Supernationals.
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